Sunday, January 28, 2007

In Significant-Other Relationships, “No” is Not a Dirty Word

As you may have seen in my “Works in Progress,” I currently am taking some of the information and wisdom regarding Adult Loving Relationships from my book by that title and outlining two new self-help books: My Adult Loving Relationships and Our Adult Loving Relationship. In one of these two “companion books” I am going to address how at times people in significant-other relationships inadvertently and/or subconsciously lie to each other. “Would you like to watch the rest if this movie with me?” she asks, and while thinking, No, I’d rather watch the football game but I don’t want to hurt her feelings, he says, “Sure honey, I’d love to.” Then later he asks, “How about if we go for a motorcycle ride and stop at a beachside restaurant for dinner?” and while thinking, Are you kidding me – my feet are swollen from walking around the mall all afternoon and I want to read more of the novel I started yesterday, but says, “Sure honey, I’d love to.”

Last night while enjoying a delightful dinner at a beachside restaurant with my special friend, Carrie, we discussed this aspect of significant-other relationships and agreed that in the ideal world two people in an adult loving relationship can feel comfortable occasionally saying “No” without worrying about it affecting their relationship. And by being honest with each other, they can, among other things, (1) discuss and negotiate options, and (2) at times do things with and for each other when both of them know that for one of them it may not be what he or she really wanted to do. In his excellent book, I'm OK-You're OK, Thomas Harris talks about the importance of being at a place where two people can “be with each other and independent of what they are doing or not doing still feel that both of them are okay.”

Question: have you ever lied to a significant other and had it eventuate into a pebble in your shoe (and maybe even later the pebble became a jagged-edged rock)?



insideout said...

Unfortunatly I have lied to sugnificant other and it always comes back to bit you in the you know what.. I linked thru PQ because I noticed your Harley. I to am a Harley fan. I had a bad accident Oct 5th and am just getting back in the saddle. Insideout..I/O

Dr. Bill Emener said...

Hello Insideout,
Thanks for stopping by. I'm most sorry to hear about your accident, yet am delighted to hear that you're back in the saddle!
Yeah, I hear ya... being totally upfront and honest are two words that are easier to spell. And for the record, I have some bite marks in my you know where as well.
Please come back any time, and keep the shiny side up!

Kelly (Lynn) Parra said...

I've given little white lies in order not to hurt or upset feelings, but I'm one of those honest people with my sig. other. :) I don't like to be lied to, so I try not to do so with most people. But I also manage to keep my mouth shut if I don't have anything nice to say too, and all together having to lie in the first place! lol.

Dr. Bill Emener said...

Hi Kelley,
Excellent points. Within the rubric of “lying,” however, we can lie to someone by omission as well as commission. To wit, “keeping one’s mouth shut” (and not saying anything) is a lie. Nonetheless, I do the same thing – with others that is and not a significant other (as you do). Let’s be real – with others we’re not invested in them or our relationship with them (so I commit a white lie and not say anything), but with a significant other we’re invested, both in him or her and our relationship. At least that’s the way I explain my view on it.
Thanks for the Comment, Kelly, you made me think!

Anonymous said...

I think the frquency of the little white lies you tell someone depends upon who the person is. If you are very confident in your relationship with the person and you are on the same perceived authority level (e.g. spouses, siblings, best friends) you probably will not tell very many. However, if the authority levels are uneven and you are on the short side (e.g. child to a parent, player to a coach, student to a teacher) the fear of disappointing the more authoritative person may cause you to tell more little lies.

Now as far as the TV shows go it's really easy for me. I married a woman who loves football. She swears she loves watching it with me! And now she's even more excited for basketball season:)

Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

Ooo...yes indeed, I have lied (and had it come back to bite me in the butt)...and I know The PK has lied and had the same thing happen to him.

We've been married long enough now that we pretty much state our minds....if we want to do something, we'll say so...if not, we'll say so.

Makes things SO SO SO much less complicated when you're honest with each other!!! ;)

Cole Reising said...

Hmmm, I'm not sure on your question but... I wanted to comment on the post. I really think its great when we can be honest to such a degree and feel I'm lucky enough to have this gift of friendship with my husband. BUT there are definitely times when I WISH he wouldn't mind 'pretending' at least for the sake of the moment. ;) Not always but I think sometimes its a way of also saying... I think your important enough I'm not going to be selfish.

Great post as usual! You always make me actually THINK! :)


Dr. Bill Emener said...

Hello Maconole,
You put your finger on a pivotal issue – in addition to the surrounding circumstances, it indeed is reasonable to consider who the individual is and what the consequences are. (As I am sure you well know, being one hundred percent up front and honest with a coach or boss can be costly.) And aren’t you and your wife fortunate (and smart) – you both have compatible interests and a relationship that can withstand and sustain total honesty. I’m happy for and with you!

Hello PQ,
As I said to Maconole, you also are in an enviable position – not only can you and PK trust each other and be totally open and honesty with each other, you can trust your relationship. I certainly am happy for and with you as well!

Dr. Bill Emener said...

Hi Cole,
Thanks for chiming in -- as usual you raise an excellent point. While others have surfaced the importance of Who? Where? and Under What Circumstances?, you have wisely pointed out the importance of TIMING. (Sort of like "Jeez, I appreciate your openness and honesty, but couldn't you have waited... like maybe until I'm in a little better position to hear it?") And I think the term for that is "sensitivity."
Thanks again,